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Tuesday, June 25
The Indiana Daily Student

bloomington

City housing report shows rising mortgage, rental costs

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The Bloomington City Council discussed some of the current challenges of increasing homeowner and renter costs facing Bloomington residents regarding renting and homeownership Wednesday.

In a comprehensive housing report from the City of Bloomington, John Zody, director of the Housing and Neighborhood Development department, said it is trying to provide solutions to increased homeowner and renter costs.

According to the report, 60% of households in Monroe County are cost-burdened. This means such residents spend more than 30% of their monthly income on housing, making Bloomington the most rental cost-burdened metro area in the state. 

Councilmembers Sue Sgambelluri and Ron Smith both questioned whether this estimate included students. Zody said the estimate doesn’t differentiate between students and non-students. Sgambelluri said the department should attempt to separate students in the estimate for the future, since students often make very little in monthly income, which can subsequently skew the data.

The report also included issues potential homeowners are facing, mainly how housing prices are increasing rapidly. Home prices in Monroe County are up 12% from 2020 with an average mortgage payment of approximately $875 and a median house price of $250,000, according to the report.

Zody said these statistics don’t include other expenses renters and homeowners may face, such as insurance, utilities, property taxes, maintenance and Homeowner Association fees.

Specifically for renters, Zody said the city should increase awareness of rental assistance programs the department offers. Some of those include public outreach events, mailers to property owners and agents, and increasing the availability of computer labs for renters to apply for rental assistance.

For homeowners, Zody said people can apply to city programs that offer assistance to residents who meet income guidelines for Down Payment Assistance and Shared Appreciation programs. 

Part of Mayor Hamilton’s Recover Forward initiative, the Down Payment Assistance program offers families up to $10,000 to help with a down payment to purchase a home. The Shared Appreciation program offers at least 20% of the purchase price up to $50,000 in zero-interest loans over a 99-year period to purchase a house. The principal is repaid to the city upon future sale of the home.

He also said recent changes to the city’s Unified Development Ordinance to allow for more diverse and dense housing options in the city. The UDO also included incentives for affordable housing.

Sgambelluri said she appreciated the proposed solutions but was worried these two goals of assisting renters and homeowners might be mutually exclusive and difficult to tackle simultaneously. Regarding the concern, Zody said the department is doing all that it can to alleviate both problems.

“I’ve been through it myself,” Zody said. “I was a young professional and had trouble finding my first house in Bloomington.”

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